Rustbelt Demographics: Population Decline in Mid-Sized Cities
Speaking of population decline, let's see how Flint matches up with some other rustbelt cities.
Two things to ask about to put population changes in context in other cities relative to Flint are:ReplyDelete
1) Have those cities annexed large populated areas over the years?
2) Does those cities have a longstanding area which is much larger than Flint's approximately 34.5 square miles, and which has only annexed nearly unpopulated areas since around 1920.
Grand Rapids, Toledo, and Mobile are three cities who can attribute at least part of their realtively better reputations on much larger areas.
I want to see areas of those cities listed along with the population figures before making further decisions about who's bad and who's worse.
Toledo: 80.6 sq. milesReplyDelete
Akron: 62.1 sq. miles
Gary: 57.18 sq. miles
Youngstown: 34.2 sq. miles
Flint: 34.1 sq. miles
This might explain Toledo and Akron fare better in terms of population loss. I'm assuming they expanded their boundaries. How else would Toledo grow so much between 1960-1980? Flint tried the same approach but failed to get the bulk of the land it wanted.
Anyone know how to get access to The Flint Journal archives database? The library had books and microfiche. Don't know what they have now.ReplyDelete
US Census books would have the areas at least every ten years. We would need side by side ten year areas and percentage area increase to track and compare this better.
Indianapolis, Nashville, and Jacksonville, and probably others have incorporated the whole county into the city area.
Then look at the old boundaries and get the crime statistics for those areas. Put the whole "we're bad but you're worse" argument into better perspective.
I'll tell you one thing, Flint would no longer be #1 in so many negative lists you keep seeing on the Internet and on Detroit TV. "Look everybody, Detroit isn't as bad." Balderdash.
Spent a lot of time in Jacksonville, and there's no doubt it would look much, much worse in terms of crime, livability and income if it was just the earlier city boundaries and not the entire county as it is now. Imagine the numbers on Flint if the city encompassed Genesee County. And you could argue that tax revenues from the more prosperous areas in the county could help fund more police and fire protection in the most dangerous areas (i.e. Flint). Of course, why would the suburbs willing join up with Flint at this point?ReplyDelete
Flint leaders realized the advantages of expanding and pushed for an economic growth initiative inspired by trends in the Sunbelt to dramatically expand Flint’s boundaries and create a unified regional government. In effect, Flint wanted to subsume the suburban areas that were siphoning off residents and jobs from the city. It was a surprisingly forward-thinking approach, one that is echoed now by Dan Kildee and many urban planners. But the exclusively white suburbs viewed this attempt at regional planning as nothing more than a desperate and self-serving land grab by the city. Opposition was intense, and the plan was dead in the water by the end of 1958. It was called "New Flint."
Grand Rapids officials were livid when the 1960 Census came out and Flint surpassed them 196,940 to 177,313. They were no longer Michigan's second largest city. Flint was for a short time Michigan's second largest city. Almost immediately, Grand Rapids expanded its borders from 24.4 to 45.3 square miles, which brought the population to a number barely ahead of Flint. One wonders how the population outside Grand Rapids was convinced to vote for annexation.ReplyDelete
Flint tried several more times to annex significant populated areas, each more modest than the previous. They all lost at the precincts.
One can see both sides of the issue. Once you flee the arson and other crime, you really don't feel like you should be paying for it after investing in much more real estate value and property taxes. And it's no longer "white flight", it's "everybody flight".
One of the (less racism-tinged) arguments against New Flint was that the suburbs were *much* more cost-effective at providing administration and governmental services, and that the City of Flint's automatic assumption that of course it would be the dominant, subsuming governmental unit was unsupportable on the merits, even if the votes had been there for it.ReplyDelete
Time has pretty much proven that analysis to be spot on. The City of Flint, with the lion's share of the industrial tax base, has been in freefall for decades and is struggling to survive.
The New Flint concept *might* have been politically saleable when it originally was proposed if it'd been structured with a professional City Manager and a City Council that was evenly vote-split between City of Flint and suburban territories, and if the unions involved had been willing to stomach having their jurisdictions not automatically closed-shop-extended across all the combined employees.
Now, the only way something approximating New Flint could happen would be for the City of Flint to legally dissolve, returning all of its governed land and assets to the County and allowing them to be annexed by the abutting suburban governmental units per the standard legal process, i.e. an affirming vote by voter majorities in both the governmental unit and the annex-candidate territory.
There has been a lot of hostility in Grand Rapids toward Eastern Michigan for a long time. Its been around for the 50 years since Grand Rapids nearly doubled its area and probably longer. But the truth is that Grand Rapids has a lot of the same problems as Eastern Michigan, but perhaps a few years behind.ReplyDelete
One subsequent annexation attempt in Flint was made around 1961. There was also a map of this in The Flint Journal, like the one in that book that is often referred to.
Flint sure appears to be a big metropolis if you look at the new MDOT Map. A large percentage of those who have moved out of Flint are still in Genesee County.ReplyDelete
Now if the yellow area on that map were transformed into the City of Flint, the quality of life stats would improve dramatically. Suddenly Flint wouldn't be on all those worst of lists. And there would be an entirely different dynamic at work in city elections.ReplyDelete
I guess I always thought about these things. I was probably no more than 10 or 11 when I took a yellow crayon and drew in a huge rectangular area around Flint, encompassing the area of two or three counties. And it was on an MDOT map from that time. It was about the time that a whole bunch of townships started incorporating around Detroit.ReplyDelete
The downside of the Grand Rapids Grand Annexation Scheme was when Wyoming, Kentwood, and Walker incorporated and effectively shut off further possibilities for expansion. Charter Townships later made it unnecessary to incorporate as cities to be immune from most annexation attempts.
According to many outstaters, Detroit is anything east of US 23 and south of I-69. I first heard this from a Flint Expatriate who now lives near Traverse City. I have to keep correcting these people and tell them I'm a good fifteen miles from the nearest City Limit.ReplyDelete